Dublin car travels at 90% of pre-coronavirus volumes

Dublin’s suburban traffic is at its highest level since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the number of cars in the city at 90% of January 2020 levels.

Despite a renewed call from the government and health authorities to keep people working from home and climate action plans to reduce car use, more and more motorists are returning to the city, according to Dublin City Council.

As public transport regained full capacity from early September, the number of passengers on Dublin Bus stabilized at just over 70% of pre-Covid figures, indicating reluctance by commuters to return from cars to buses.

However, the number of cyclists has returned to pre-Covid levels for the first time since the start of the pandemic, following significant investments in safer cycling infrastructure in the city over the past 18 months.

Meanwhile, increases in parking fees in Dublin of up to € 3.50 per hour are due to be introduced almost two years after being proposed.

The parking fee increase of around 10% in all zones was approved by councilors in late 2019 and was due to go into effect last year, but has been delayed due to the pandemic.

In a report to be presented to councilors next week, council parking manager Dermot Stevenson said one of the goals of the town’s development plan was to “renew restrictions on use and cost parking on the street and modify them if necessary, in order to discourage the parking of commuters ”.

Four submissions

He noted that four submissions had been made to council regarding the proposal to increase charges, three were in favor on the grounds that it would discourage vehicle use, impact congestion, air and noise pollution, and would create a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

The fourth submission did not comment on the proposed increase in parking fees, but requested that parking street signage include a description of the color of the area in writing to assist those who are color blind.

The new charges will increase parking in the “yellow zone” in the city center from € 3.20 to € 3.50 per hour, while outside this zone, the “red zone” charge will increase. from € 2.70 to € 3. The outer “green zone” will drop from € 1.60 to € 1.80, while the low demand “orange zone” will drop from € 1 to € 1.10. Lower rates will apply for those using parking badges instead of cash.

The government’s climate action plan released this week proposes the introduction of “demand-side management” measures to discourage car use in order to achieve a 51 percent reduction in transport emissions.

More work is needed to “fully define the lanes” to reduce car use, the plan says, but consideration will be given to implementing “low emission zones” that restrict access by polluting vehicles, and “road pricing systems” commonly called urban tolls.

Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan said the two measures would likely require primary legislation before they could be introduced in the city, but were “two options worth considering” .

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